A doctor’s personal sleep prescription

1. Go to bed when sleepy, but do not try to get more sleep by going to bed early.

2. Only read, eat or watch TV in bed if you know from past experience that such things help you get to sleep.

3. When you go to bed try to get all your muscles as relaxed as you can.

4. Do not think about getting to sleep or about the day’s activities – try instead to dwell on pleasant places and activities. (The alarm should be set for the same waking time each morning.)

5. If pleasant thoughts do not come, then dwell on outside noises, traffic – anything monotonous will do.

6. If you do not go to sleep quite quickly, say in 10 to 15 minutes, get up instead of lying in bed fretting. Worrying about being awake is much worse than not sleeping. Instead, go into a different room and read or listen to the radio until sleepy. This ‘quiet room, it is recommended, is worth setting up by insomniacs as a routine retreat. It should have a comfortable chair, adequate heating, blankets, a suitable reading light and a facility for making a drink. It should be a standby for the early wakers as well as for those who find it difficult to drop off. Once a sleepy feeling returns, the insomniac returns to bed and usually to sound sleep.

As far as item 3 on this list is concerned, the relaxation response can certainly help with sleep.

The following routine is very effective and differs from the relaxation response routines outlined in the 10-day plan, which are not designed to induce sleep. By now you know how best to relax or trigger the relaxation response. For insomnia you should devote yourself to a sleep-inducing procedure that uses some of the knowledge of self-hypnosis contained in Post 10.

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